Human Rights in a Shrinking Civic Space


Human Rights in a Shrinking Civic Space

Room 920, Level 9
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street


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In many countries civil society faces severe pressure. This is not limited to authoritarian regimes, but occurs also in hybrid and even established democracies. Collective citizens' efforts, especially when they have political salience, seem to be regarded with increasing suspicion and even to be actively countered in many states. NGOs are confronted with restrictions on foreign funding. Independent media also face pressure. Public protests and demonstrations are increasingly caught in a net woven of strands of disproportionate police reactions and formal bureaucratic rules.

Anti-NGO laws, arbitrary inspections and even harassment and criminalization all strike at the roots of civic space. What are the possible causes of this shrinking or closing civic space, how does the closing manifest itself, and what are the linkages to human rights? And how cold civil society react and bounce back?

This talk will focus on anti-NGO measures and the possibilities to use human rights as a lens to frame and address this phenomenon.


  • Professor Antoine Buyse
    Professor Antoine Buyse, Professor of Human Rights